Sept. 29, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame volleyball team held a 2-1 lead against BIG EAST rival Marquette but couldn't hold on as the Golden Eagles won the fourth and fifth sets to earn a 3-2 (12-25, 26-24, 13-25, 27-25, 15-7) victory over the Irish Saturday at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame (9-6, 2-1 BIG EAST) dominated Marquette (11-3, 2-0 BIG EAST) in the first and third sets, but the Golden Eagles claimed a pair of tight sets and then rolled in set five to earn the win.
The Irish were hampered again by service errors, as 15 serves went into the net or long, including four in the final 12 points of set two; a set in which the Irish lost by two, 26-24, and led 24-23 with a chance to serve for the set win.
Holly Mertens, who powered home a match-high 20 kills and blocked nine Irish shots, led Marquette. Danielle Carlson added 14 kills and seven blocks as the Golden Eagles had 17 blocks on the day, including five in the fifth and final set.
Four players with double-digit kill totals paced Notre Dame. Senior Hilary Eppink turned in a season-high 14 kills on her way to hitting .400 for the match. She also added six blocks. Sophomore Jeni Houser had 12 kills, four digs and five blocks, while fellow sophomore Toni Alugbue produced 14 kills, three service aces, six digs and four blocks. Junior tri-captain Andrea McHugh rounded out the foursome with 12 kills, four digs and two blocks. Setter Maggie Brindock turned in her eighth double-double with 52 assists and 12 digs, while also chipping in three kills and six blocks.
The Irish meet Syracuse tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion. Fans can follow the match via live stats or UND.com's free video.
The Irish dominated the first set, racing to a 25-12 victory. Notre Dame hit an impressive .519 while limiting the Golden Eagles to a .091 hitting percentage. Eppink had five kills and no errors while hitting .714. McHugh had four kills in five attempts to hit .600. The Irish opened up the floodgates behind the serving of McHugh as they took a 10-4 lead and turned it into a 16-4 advantage. The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of the set, as Marquette couldn't put together a run to make the set close. Notre Dame ended the set with a kill from McHugh and an attack error by Erin Lehman.
A back-and-forth second set saw Marquette even the score at one going into the break with a 26-24 victory. The Golden Eagles built leads at 10-7, 15-12 and 18-15, but the Irish came back behind Marquette miscues. A service error and an attack error trimmed the lead to 19-17 and a block by Alugbue moved it to within one. Later in the set the Irish tied the score at 23 on a kill from McHugh and a kill from Houser gave the Irish set point. However, an untimely service error from the Irish gave the Golden Eagles new life. A pair of kills by Elizabeth Koberstein and Danielle Carlson sealed the set for the Golden Eagles. Notre Dame had four service errors in the final 12 points that helped prevent the Irish from taking a 2-0 lead.
Another dominating set followed the break for the Irish as they took a 2-1 lead with a 25-13 win. Up 6-4, Notre Dame went on a 5-1 run to push the lead to 11-5. Later in the set the Irish went on another lengthy run to turn a 14-8 lead into a 20-9 advantage. A pair of solo blocks by Alugbue and Houser jumpstarted the run. Notre Dame closed out the set with a kill from Eppink, who went four-for-four in attack chances. The Irish limited the Golden Eagles to a -.069 hitting percentage.
The Golden Eagles forced the contest to a fifth set with a thrilling 27-25 win victory in set four. With Marquette up 24-22 the Irish tied the match on a Golden Eagle service error and a kill from Alugbue. Marquette regained the lead on a kill from Mertens, but the Irish answered on a kill from Eppink. Another kill by Mertens gave the Golden Eagles a 26-25 lead and a block by Mertens and Danielle gave Marquette the win and sent the match to a fifth set.
Marquette controlled the fifth set virtually from the beginning. The Irish trailed by just one at 6-5, but the Golden Eagles went on a 4-0 run to break the set open. Included in the run were two Golden Eagle blocks and an Irish service error. Up 12-7, Marquette closed out the match with three consecutive points that included another Irish service error and two more Golden Eagle blocks. Marquette had five blocks in the fifth set to control the Irish at the nets.